STEAM ENGINES AND THRESHING MACHINES
Regular contributor Gary Yaeger, 1120 Leisha Lane, Kalispell, MT 59901 (firstname.lastname@example.org), supplies us with some more steaming photos and some interesting information about Reeves Canadian Specials. Gary writes:
Mike, the photos you sent in of Montana Reeves (Steam Traction, May/June 2005), are great ones. This engine was restored by the late W.W. Danuser in Tulsa, Okla., years ago. As I remember, he sold this engine to someone, then went and bought it back a few years later. He eventually sold it to the late Norman Pross near Luverne, N.D. Norm's nephew Mark Pedersen inherited the engine when Norm passed away, and it remains in the Luverne area.
I don't have my copy of Historical Stories of Reeves Engines, by Haston L. St. Clair, so I can't give you the serial number of this engine. It seems it was something like 6667. The photo of the engine on the lowboy trailer is shown in the book. This engine has been confused as a Canadian Special engine, due to the late styling, the long appearance of the 32 HP double-simple boiler and especially the steel, built-up driver wheels installed on all Canadian Special engines except Highwheeler models.
I am sending another photo of a restored former W.W. Danuser Reeves engine. It is a 25 HP Canadian Special cross-compound. Alan Derting of Kentucky bought it out of Oklahoma about three or four years ago. Alan operates this engine at 200 psi and it is his "plowing tractor," as much of his farm work is done with steam, including his hardwood sawmill. Photo #1 was taken in 2004 on a plowing day. I have a video of this engine working. It is awesome. Thanks for submitting these photos to Steam Traction magazine.
I felt honored that Kevin Small dedicated the photos of the Reeves no. 7181 to me in the May/June 2005 issue. Photo #2 shows the Titusville Iron Works plant in Pennsylvania. Remember, Titusville was the location of America's first oil well.
I am also including another postcard (Photo #3) of a "parade of power" on First Avenue in Billings, Mont., circa 1911, which I think is kind of unique. I can't make out the canopy of the gas tractor pulling a threshing machine, just turning onto First Avenue, but the next tractor pulling a 4-bottom plow is an IHC, and following that is an under-mounted Avery pulling an 8-bottom lever lift plow. Then there is a 40 HP Reeves, a 32 HP Reeves Canadian Special and a 32 HP U.S. Reeves. I can't make out the next four engines, but the fifth, under the "Ton" (surely not Tonka?) sign, appears to be the back tanks and drivers wheels of a 110 HP Case. Notice the 1907-10 era IHC high-wheel Motor Wagon parked under the "Ton" sign.
I went to the one-room school in Glengarry, Mont., for eight years and the Herman Otten house was about 200 yards away from the schoolhouse. The Beaver Creek Road separated the Otten farm from the Yaeger farm where I grew up. Otten bought the Reeves Canadian Special cross-compound, no. 7181, new from Ben Hollenback, his brother-in-law, in 1915 at a price of $100 per horsepower. In 1920 the Yaeger Bros. traded a team of Percheron workhorses for a 1910 Reeves Canadian Special cross-compound, no. 6269.
That 1910 engine, which had the earlier Broderick Bros. butt-strap boiler, wore out two sets of steel gearing in its lifetime. Hollenback, a Reeves agent, ordered the engine for his Montana Plowing Co. fleet in the Moore-Buffalo, Mont., area of the Judith Basin. His plowing crew had a badger cross in front of the Reeves one summer day. They closed the throttle, jumped off and took off after the badger, throwing stones. I have a hard time understanding the mentality of the engineer in charge that day, but the engine was aimed somewhat downhill and who knows where the water level was in the glass. (Reeves used the rear-mounted water glass, so there was no excuse for not being able to see the level, as there is in the side-mounted water glass on my 15 HP Case.) While the crew was attempting to kill the badger - a near impossible task with rocks, as badgers are extremely resilient - the fusible plug melted and there was steam coming out of the draft and smokestack. Sadly, the crown sheet had bagged before the antimony melted.
A "horse trader" or "wheeler dealer" engine man, Charlie Colwell bought the engine from Hollenback. Yaeger Bros. traded the team of horses to Colwell. Colwell owned several Reeves engines (I retrieved three Reeves-type horizontal 2-1/2-inch Pickering governors from his parts shed as a freshman at Moore High School) and his personal farming engine was a 32 HP Canadian Special cross-compound. I believe his engine had a Titusville Iron Works boiler, plus I believe it could have been a 1912 engine, and may have been built before the sale of Reeves & Co. to Emerson-Brantingham that same year.
Circa 1932 the Yaeger Bros.' Reeves, no. 6269, was down for repairs - they also owned one of the few 20 HP Reeves highwheeler engines. Neighbor Otten, also a brother-in-law of Uncle Frank Yaeger, offered the use of no. 7181 to the Yaeger Bros. so they could get their plowing finished, as Otten had just finished his own plowing. Yaeger Bros. accepted the offer and I will never forget my dad talking about getting to engineer it. I don't know how many times I heard him reiterate, "She's just like new," when I was a boy growing up. Dad had the Montana traction license on the crew so he got to grow intimate with that engine.
Photo #6 clearly shows the "gooseneck" main steam line. The Canadian Special also used two 45-degree elbows in the blower line, as seen in the picture. This photo was taken on property that is now the Lewistown Municipal Airport. This farm became property of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, where they had a B-17 training base constructed in 1943. The base's proximity to the badland of eastern Montana placed it in this area. One of the Cat operators on that construction project was none other than our own Austin Monk.
Unfortunately, near the finish of their plowing operation, there became a timed thump detectable on the engineer's platform. Dad said he grew faint when he timed the thump to the revolution of the countershaft. The "intermediate" gear broke separate from the countershaft and the 32 HP Canadian Special had the galvanized metal housings around the gearing. I referred to the intermediate gear as such, as Reeves refers to the gear between the master, or clutch gear, and the bull pinion gears as the intermediate gear in their literature. I often call it the differential drive gear, as this is not the usual intermediate or "reach" gear most brands of steam engines used. By circa 1932, the Reeves plant had burned in Columbus, Ind.; Emerson-Brantingham was broke, sold off and Reeves parts were somewhat of a quandary.
Somehow, a Reeves blueprint dated 1912, signed by Anthony M. Clay, was obtained. This blueprint is of the 32 HP Canadian Special boiler head-sheet, and shows the dimensions of the shafting and their proximity to each other. Thank goodness they got it and kept it, as I still have it, but it was of little assistance in this situation. I sure wish I could ask Dad about where they inquired to get a countershaft and where they got this blueprint. It may have been a leftover company at the old Emerson-Brantingham shop in Billings, Mont.? It may have been a J.I. Case dealership, but from what Lyle Hoffmaster has said, "Case didn't buy the Reeves portion of Emerson-Brantingham!"
Dad said they had to do something to fix the Otten Reeves in order to return it in satisfactory condition. They learned of a derelict 40 HP Reeves at Stanford, Mont., and made arrangements to buy the countershaft from it. This was one of the early U.S. 40 HP engines, as I have one of the 2-1/4-inch nuts (that is the inside hole diameter, not the wrench size!) from the countershaft brackets or cannon bearing(s). The Bros. owned a 16-foot bed lathe, which my Uncle Audie stood at for enough hours to create a couple of wheelbarrow loads of cuttings under the lathe. The countershaft was installed in the Reeves cannon bearing and the engine was returned to Otten.
One identifier of this situation is on one end of this countershaft. The 32 HP used three bolts to retain the end of the countershaft and the 40 HP used four bolts. The countershaft in no. 7181 has three holes in one end and four in the other. I am sure they had deep regrets for borrowing that Reeves, but I'll never forget Dad's elation over the opportunity to engineer it. It was probably about two weeks of Dad's fondest memories of his 28-year steam career.
My fine young friend, Kevin Small, was inquiring about the Titusville Iron Works boilers and some of the chronology in Reeves & Co.'s usage (Steam Traction, March/April 2005). That would be a fun thing to chase in retirement, but those of us who think we are honorary members of the "Reeves Fraternity" have discovered there is little to no information regarding this manufacturer.
Lyle Hoffmaster was fortunate to personally interview some Reeves employees in later years, and he also has an original Reeves blueprint, but we know of no other originals. It is a good thing Reeves sent out parts books, owner's manuals and model year catalogs, because everything they sent out didn't burn in the Reeves plant records department fire. I was fortunate enough to acquire a postcard of the Titusville Iron Works plant in Titusville, Pa. I felt kind of silly when Small and I were visiting on the phone regarding the article he was planning about Reeves no. 7181. He asked where the Titusville Iron Works was located and only because of this postcard I knew it was located in his home state.
I stand to be corrected by people like Melvin Pierce, Lyle Hoffmaster, Mark Ohlde, Mark Pedersen, Alan Derting and a few others who likely know more about the subject, but I think this could be the chronology? The 40 Reeves - U.S. lap-seam only - was brought out in the fall of 1908, in time to make some state fairs.
I am 99.83 percent sure that Brownell Boiler Works built all of the U.S., or lap-seam, Reeves boilers. I am pretty sure these boilers utilized a 3/8-inch outer wrapper and 1/2-inch flue sheets for a 150 psi working pressure. I am not aware of any of these boilers having survived.
1909 was a big sales year for the Big Forty. This engine had improvements like shielded steel gearing running in oil, and steel built-up driver wheels, which Harry C. Clay, head of the engineering department at Reeves & Co., would one day incorporate into the 20, 25, 32 and 40 HP Canadian Special engines. The 16 HP Reeves was available in the Canadian Special, but only in the highwheeler.
Dad's 32 HP Reeves, no. 6269, has 1910 stamped in its original Broderick Bros.' butt-strap boiler. There is a Canadian Special 25 HP cross-compound at a museum in Canada that is an earlier serial number than the Yaeger 32 HP Reeves. It could conceivably be a 1909 produced engine. That engine and the boiler from no. 6269 are some of the few Broderick Bros. boilers extant.
There is a 32 HP double-simple boiler in Canada, Melvin Pierce has a 20 HP Broderick boiler and Mark Pedersen has a 40 HP Broderick boiler, both in North Dakota.
Now to clear up some confusion, when 32 HP Reeves no. 6269 went to Ohio about 40 years ago, new owner Charlie Harrison bought a later Titusville Iron Works boiler out of the muskeg swamps of northern Canada.
Photo #7 was taken at the Tyler farm circa the mid-1960s, and shows the late Earl Tyler and a lady, either Earl's late wife Katherine or Mrs. Charlie (Hilda) Harrison; I apologize for not being able to correctly identify them. The engine on the left is the 32 HP Reeves cross-compound Canadian Special, no. 6269, and Charlie Harrison had just purchased it. The 32 HP Reeves cross-compound U.S. on the right is Tyler's no. 7888. This would be a hard photo to reconstruct, today. I think this is the only collection with both Reeves types; a 32 HP cross-compound U.S. and a 32 HP cross-compound Canadian Special. Note the difference in the boiler barrel diameters: The smokebox door rings on the Canadian Specials are larger. The same size smokebox door was used, but placed lower in an eccentric manner on the Canadian models. The Brownell boiler on no. 7888 is like new inside. The wet bottom plate is "as smooth as a baby's cheeks." Lyle Hoffmaster, you are correct; that is a Canadian Special canopy on this U.S. engine.
Photo #8 shows the 32 HP Reeves cross-compound Canadian Special, no. 6269, after Charlie Harrison moved it to Ohio in the mid-1960s. He pulled off the jacketing, exposing the steam dome, butt-strap and steam line arrangement without a flange between the dome and 90-degree angle main steam valve. This was the last remaining 32 HP Reeves Canadian Special with a Broderick Bros. boiler, before it eventually got its newer Titusville Iron Works boiler. Broderick Bros. wing sheets were riveted on separately; the wagon top was one piece but a separate wing sheet was riveted to the rear to carry the cannon bearings and the rear motor mounting. The upper "cannon bearing" was riveted onto the wing sheet. Present owner Marvin Brodbeck of Ottawa Lake, Mich., bought no. 6269 from Harrison's estate and removed the Broderick boiler to be replaced by the Titusville boiler.
I have several hundred photos, or copies thereof, of Reeves steam engines and a few of them have pretty fair detail of the steam dome area in spite of the standard jacketing Reeves supplied, which covered up some of the boiler manufacturer's secrets. I remember Dad saying their Broderick boiler's outer shell was a 7/16-inch boilerplate and I believe he said they had 1/2-inch flue sheets. They could have been 5/8-inch sheets. In order to provide the necessary horsepower increase desired by Harry Clay, a 175 psi operating pressure (in any jurisdiction) was necessary, plus the boilers needed to meet the very stringent Canadian provinces rules, which had been recently adopted.
Dad said the stay bolts in the firebox area were of a diminished pitch from the later Titusville boilers. The Broderick and Titusville Canadian Special boilers both had "through stays," from the rear head sheet through the front flue sheet, which the U.S. engines did not have. Reeves no. 6269 had a slightly domed steam dome, and the steam line extended out of the top center of the dome, directly into the 90-degree main steam valve. There was no union in this short pipe.
Later Broderick Bros. boilers appeared to have a bolted flange to the steam dome, allowing the steam line to be disconnected from the engine without having to unscrew all of the piping from the governor forward. I have other photos, such as the engine Charlie Colwell owned, that appear to have a Titusville boiler, as the dome and the flange arrangement was different.
I do not know for sure, but I believe Colwell's Reeves was a 1912 engine. Emerson-Brantingham bought Reeves & Co. in 1912, and I do not believe EB ever built one engine with a Broderick Bros. boiler. However, they may have sold some hold-over engines they inherited in their purchase. As Small mentioned in his article, all of the remaining 32 HP Canadian Specials and the Smolik brother's 40 HP Reeves have the later Titusville Iron Works boilers. These engines all have the familiar gooseneck steam line.
A further improvement to the steam dome area was the incorporation of two 45-degree pipe elbows out of the main steam valve, which now bolted into a flange atop the steam dome. The obvious change became necessitated when an engine or two, somewhere, through heat expansion or plain old fatigue, broke the main nipple between the steam dome and the 90-degree main steam valve. The word picture I see in that event, besides waking up an engineer and steerman, would certainly ruin one's day?
The Titusville boilers employed on the 32 and 40 HP Reeves engines had a 1/2-inch outer boiler shell and 5/8-inch flue sheets, but still 175 psi working pressure (in any jurisdiction).
Max Tyler related to me a few years before his death about a conversation he had several decades ago with Hollenback. Hollenback told Tyler he had sold two 40 HP Reeves engines, one U.S. and one Canadian Special. Hollenback said a 5/8-inch outer wrapper and 3/4-inch flue sheets boiler was available upon special order only, and would be qualified to operate legally in any jurisdiction at 200 psi. Hollenback did not know whether any 40 HP Reeves engines were ever produced with that special-order boiler. I have been told by an old timer or two that many Reeves Canadian Special owners possessed two pop valves; one for the state boiler inspector and another for operating at 200 psi in the field. Hoffmaster tells of knowing men who operated their Reeves Canadian Special engines at 225 psi! If the state had no boiler inspection division or no rules, that practice could have been frequent, I would guess. Montana's boiler rules had roots originating in the mid-19th century due to the St. Louis to Fort Benton steamboat traffic on the Missouri River.
I was wondering about that special-order 40 HP Reeves. The U.S. 40 was a 40-120 HP; the Canadian Special 40 was a 40-140 HP; so would the special order 200 psi working pressure 40 be a 40-160? Maybe some of the math oriented steam men (and women) could help me with that question?
Photo #9 shows Max Tyler standing beside the left driver wheel of Reeves no. 7181. Marshall Truman Reeves never had a more faithful advocate of Reeves steam engines than Max. Perhaps, some of you old timers had a discussion with Max regarding the "other" brands of steam engines and discovered first hand his loyalty to Reeves? He was not bashful with his opinions.
Grandpa Charlie, Earl and Max Tyler owned seven different 32 HP Reeves cross-compound engines over the years; four "States" or U.S. models and three Canadian Specials. They were not Reeves agents, just loyal advocates. I was 11 years old the first time I spent a couple of days and nights at Max and Ruth's home with their oldest son, Mike. Max and Mike were both standing nearby when I struck the first match of my personal steam career in 1954.
I know I have rambled a bunch, but I have one more short quip. When the countershaft broke on Otten's Reeves no. 7181, creating the replacement dilemma, I, as about a 16-year-old, had a big question for my dad: "Why didn't you pull the countershaft out of our Reeves and put it into Otten's Reeves, then go buy the 40 HP Reeves for yourselves?" I think the good Lord knew I would come along in another 11 or 12 years, and I think he knew I would develop a big head over eventually becoming the owner of that 40 HP Reeves. It is always fun to reminisce about "the big one that got away!"
Butch and Becky Bauer, 11899 Harris Road, Defiance, OH 43512; (419) 395-1057, write in this issue on the subject of Aultman & Taylor: The Bauer's write:
Regarding previous articles about Aultman & Taylor equipment and advertising, I believe Photo #1 would be of interest to readers.
The photo was featured on a pamphlet advertising Aultman & Taylor equipment. The outfit in the picture, a 25-50 HP Aultman & Taylor tractor engine, no. 912, and an Aultman & Taylor 36-56 New Century separator, no. 30933, was owned by Cyril Bauer's father, Emerson Bauer of Holgate, Ohio. The photo was taken July 31, 1917, by the Aultman & Taylor Co. It was taken on the Walter Shelly farm, 1 mile east and 1-1/2 miles south of Holgate, Ohio. Emerson Bauer is sitting on the back fender, the man standing in the white shirt is a company representative, the men with the pitchforks are hired hands, the men on top of the separator are Frank Smith (with a hat) and Walter Shelly, and the men on the wagon are a company representative and a hired hand. Forty acres of wheat were threshed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Emerson is Cyril Bauer's father and Butch Bauer's grandfather.
I am also enclosing a picture of our current outfit. The engine is a 1921 20 HP Minneapolis, and the separator is a 1917 Minneapolis 36-56.
Some issues back, we promised to share more stories of steaming from reader Bob Hart, 421 W. 8th St., Hermann, MO 65041. Bob has a wealth of wonderful tales from the days of steam, a few of which he shares here. Bob writes:
My grandfather William Prior, 1869-1967, related this story to me:
He had been helping Joe Thurman at the sawmill on Big Bear Creek near Big Spring, Mo. They were clearing bottom timber for farmland with this old Gaar-Scott and the sawmill. Grandpa said the old engine was almost worn out and the boiler wasn't the best. That morning they had some very large water oak logs that needed to be sawed. Joe built up steam and hung a monkey wrench on the pop valve. Grandpa said, "Joe if you don't take that wrench off of there, I'm going home!"
Joe, said "Do what you want. I need all the power I can get to saw these big logs." Grandpa went on home. That afternoon his son Edward and he went about four miles east in Warren County to make ties. About mid-afternoon there was a rumble in the west.
Edward said, "Dad that can't be thunder. There's not a cloud in the sky."
Grandpa said, "I bet Joe's old engine blew up."
When they came home that evening sure enough it had. Several people from Big Spring were there to take a look. Luckily no one was hurt. Joe and his crew were behind a tall log pile unloading a wagon. The team of horses ran off a short distance when it blew up.
The mill was on the Conrad Ostelath farm a short distance from the house. Ostelath was feeding the chickens and at the same time his wife was in the toilet. Some debris from the sawmill flew up and serenaded the outhouse. She emerged from there with part of her clothing out of place. After they saw no one was hurt the men at the mill nearly fell on the ground laughing. This lady was so embarrassed that she wouldn't go to town or church for nearly a month. Grandpa said Ostelath swallowed his mouth full of tobacco and with all the excitement it didn't even make him sick.
The sawing wasn't delayed long. Joe had a nearly new 18 HP Peerless that he used for threshing. The next morning he had it at the mill. After pulling some of the Gaar-Scott remains out of the way, the sawing resumed.
My dad said Joe used to thresh for neighbors where they had to cross creeks with no low water bridges, just sand and gravel. He said once Joe was on his way to Grandpa Hart's to thresh. Dad and his two brothers knew he was on his way and went to the crossing to hide in the brush.
Joe started across with the separator, which had narrow wheels. The separator mired down and got the engine stuck, also. Joe was a high-tempered Irishman. After throwing rocks and some awfully bad language at the machine he proceeded to put his hat on the ground and stomp on it. Neighbors with horses and mules soon arrived to pull him out.
Dad talked about another incident farther up the creek at a different crossing. One evening a different outfit was parked next to the creek ready to cross the next morning. His older brother and he had been swimming, and noticed the machine. It still had steam in it. The separator had a new tarp tied to the wheels. They thought it would be a good time to play engineer. So his brother pulled open the throttle and the engine lunged forward with a loud ripping sound. Needless to say the new tarp was trashed. They got scared and ran home. Next morning Dad said you could hear them cursing real loud. Dad and uncle kept that a secret for many years.
Another time Bill Deeker had a wooden-wheel Peerless that he used for threshing. They started up a hill and came upon a bench rock. He opened the throttle and the spokes gave out in one wheel. The engine went to the ground. His son quickly chocked the separator and the three wheels on the engine. Then the real work began.
"Gus said, 'If it's all the same to you, I think it will do more good on the inside.' This religious man wasn't too fond of the idea, but told Gus he should know his finger best."
In April of that year lightning had struck a good size hickory tree near his home. They cut it down, split it up and made a set of spokes. The threshing continued on along with the normal breakdown and disasters. There were plenty of pranks pulled off, but none were too serious.
One hot day, my uncle and his buddy were hauling bunnels and needed a break. They were next to a creek and found an old bucket to soak a dozen bunnels in. They choked the separator. Yes, they got their break, but the separator man wasn't very happy.
Another time Bill Timmerberg was threshing with a wooden Rumely separator. Some young guys found a skunk under a wheat shock. They killed it and deposited it in the middle of a bunnel. It was after dinner when that bunnel hit the separator. The smell caused the separator man to lose his dinner as well as it spooked the horses and mules. Bill said when he traded the machine off several years later the smell was still in the machine.
Bill also bought a new 32-by-54-inch Keck-Gonnerman separator in 1940. Boy was he proud of it. His separator man, Roy Ford, seemed to be more proud than Bill. He was forever scolding the young guys for the way they fed it. This made them mad. So they decided to get even.
They were located close to a pasture with a lot of cows and would be finishing up the next day. That evening after everyone went home, the boys returned with shovels. They collected a bunch of souvenirs from the pasture and decorated the deck of the separator with them.
The next morning Bill came to start firing up. Roy grabbed the oil can and grease gun to service the machine. He nearly bit the stem off his pipe when he saw what had happened. Bill called the sheriff. When the sheriff arrived and didn't observe any real damage, his advice was to clean it up and get on with threshing. Bill wasn't too happy about having to pay the waterman for an extra tank of water. He advised Roy to let up on the boys and not get them so mad.
Threshing days were hard hot work, but that was when neighbors helped each other. For hot or cold weather, in the country a bottle of whiskey was a remedy for lots of different things. Tooth aches, colds and minor injuries could all be cured with some whiskey.
One time Gus Hunefeld was threshing for a very religious family. He hurt his finger on the separator. The religious man told his son to fetch the whiskey and Gus was shocked to hear this. This man told Gus to pour some on his finger and wrap it up. Gus said if it's all the same to you, I think it will do more good on the inside. This religious man wasn't too fond of the idea but told Gus he should know his finger best.
A lot of engineers in my area kept a bottle in the toolbox. They believed a few sips would keep the blood cooler and they wouldn't break out in heat. If you should get snake bit though, don't use whiskey. Use the bottle to rub on the bite and let grandpa or an uncle drink the whiskey, as it will do you more good that way.
A copperhead bit my grandpa Prior when he was about 15 years old. His parents sent his uncle on a mule to a place about 10 miles away. This fellow made good whiskey. He purchased a gallon jug and sampled it quite a few times before he made it back to where he started. Needless to say, he was barely able to stay on the mule. Grandpa said the whiskey made him sicker than the snakebite. He put vinegar and salt on the wound, which drew the poison out. He soon healed up right well.
Happy and safe steaming to all, and I hope to see you at the shows.
Carlton Johnson, 2256 W. Wilson Road, Clio, MI 48420, writes in again to share some Case history. Carlton writes:
The photos I've sent come from a 1905 Case catalog showing a Case engine with a 14-by-14-inch bore and stroke. The rear wheels are 8 feet high. Some say Case built six of these engines and others say nine. Forty or so years ago a fellow had a large locomotive-type boiler from one of these engines. The smaller photo is from an A.W. Stevens catalog. I have a 6 HP Russell portable.
If you have a comment, question or reminiscence for Past and Present, please send it along to: Steam Traction, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265; email@example.com